Washington — Pending the final results of an investigation, the Obama administration believes the attack that killed four American diplomats in Libya on September 11 grew out of a spontaneous protest in Benghazi that a handful of well-armed extremists were able to exploit and escalate.
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice spoke on several U.S. television talk shows September 16 and condemned the “disgusting and reprehensible” anti-Muslim video that has sparked protests, and said the violence that has accompanied those protests is “a completely unacceptable response” to the film.
Speaking on CNN, Rice said the mobs outside U.S. and other Western facilities in several Muslim-majority countries are a “small minority” of the population, and the Obama administration will continue to stand with the vast majority of people who want freedom and a better future and who understand that the United States supports their long-term aspirations.
“Just as the people of these countries are not going to allow their lives to be hijacked by a dictator, they're not going to allow an extremist mob to hijack their future and their freedom,” Rice said.
“The fact is … this is a turbulent time. It's a time of dramatic change. It's a change that the United States has backed because we understand that when democracy takes root, when human rights and people's freedom of expression can be manifested, it may lead to turbulence in the short term, but over the long term, that is in the interest of the United States,” she said.
Rice added that despite the incident in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. diplomats, the United States is “extremely popular” in Libya. “The outpouring of sympathy and support for Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues from the government, from people is evidence of that,” she said.
Speaking on ABC, Rice said the expressions of condolence and solidarity are “much more a reflection of sentiment towards the United States than a small handful of heavily armed mobsters.”
She also said the Libyan government has “gone out of its way” to increase security for U.S. diplomats, and that leaders from Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world have “come out and made very plain that there’s no excuse for this violence.”
Rice said the United States will be working with Libyan authorities to bring those responsible for the deaths of the American delegates to justice.
Speaking on CBS, she said an investigation team led by the FBI is en route to the country.
“They're not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation,” she said.